Wait, don’t put away the Christmas decorations just yet. I’ve got one more present for you—and you’re gonna to hate it.
Most of Donald Trump’s proposed cabinet and advisors are either inexperienced at government or opposed to the actual function that they would oversee—and usually, both. The unqualified part goes without saying: Trump favors people who resemble him. And of course 95% of them are rich white men.
There are exceptions. Trump nominated Elaine Chao to lead the Transportation department, which makes her a triple exception to the rule: a 1.non-white 2.woman 3.who has experience (Secretary of Labor under W. Bush and Secretary of Transportation under H.W. Bush). That she is the wife of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell makes for a convenient political favor.
But as “establishment” as she may appear, Chao seems opposed to the good that her department could do right now. This country’s infrastructure is long overdue for massive improvements—even if only repair and maintenance. But Chao has registered doubts about the huge investment this would require (an issue that Trump ran on). You shouldn’t be surprised. Remember all those “shovel-ready” jobs Obama ran on in 2008? Many were never started because Republicans just can’t bring themselves to spend money on the 99% of us who would benefit the most.
Chao’s resistance to a necessary-for-public-safety project is a mild example of the havoc that Trump seems inclined to inflict upon our government, and on us. He ran on populist themes such as keeping Social Security and Medicare, but his appointees clearly point toward action in the opposite direction.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is focused on raising the Social Security retirement age and converting Medicare to a voucher system. What could go wrong? Let’s not forget the obsession with repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a lie: Republicans know that they can’t design a better alternative short of a single-payer system …like every other developed nation already has. And they are never, no way, gonna spring for that.
What’s coming under Trump won’t be as quick and violent as a slasher movie like Halloween, but I can picture it wearing Michael Myer’s emotionless “Captain Kirk” mask and breaking your heart in ways that “we” should have known—but didn’t.
Have you read about the Trump voters who are surprised that he really intends to repeal their Obamacare coverage? This one never believed that pledge and apparently didn’t realize that Congress repeals laws; the President merely signs or vetoes their actions. She also forgot that the House of Representatives has already repealed Obamacare more than 50 times, only to be rejected by a Democratic Senate or vetoed by Obama himself.
The new Congress’s attack will be lead by Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary pick Tom Price and White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, both committed critics of Obamacare. Congressional leaders already have the law’s Death Panel planned for January, an execution ordered but the prisoner kept alive on Death Row for 3 years or so, until they realize that they cannot replace it.
After that, you’ll be on your own. They’ll either kill it with no replacement—because they can—or they’ll cobble together some weak shitpile of benefits so pathetic that it’ll be equivalent to nothing.
And why stop there, when you’re tearing down the whole damn building? Mulvaney channeled Trump’s bombast in a Facebook post last September: “…do we really need government-funded research at all?” Given that Big Pharma lives off the aforementioned free research, that brewing brawl will be interesting to watch. Everybody’s got a bottom line.
Mega-donor Betsy DeVos is Trump’s nomination for Secretary of Education, naturally—because she favors private education over public. All you need is money. And this is her money quote: “We expect a return on our investment.” DeVos and her husband, Amway billionaire Dick DeVos, spent some $7 million over the years on Michigan legislators who enacted charter school laws. But after twenty years of that, the measurable results reveal that the DeVos’ charter schools experiment gets a failing grade. Michigan is now even farther behind than before, on basics such as grade school level reading and math.
As the past 30+ years of supply-side economics amply demonstrates, Republicans have never let that system’s failures deter them from selling it to us yet again. But take heart. Even these unsettling times can produce the occasional surprise that plays against type…
Here’s a sentence that I never thought I’d write: in mid-December, Donald Trump Jr. earned my respect …while participating in nepotism! The president-elect nominated Ryan Zinke to be Secretary of the Interior after his son bonded with the Montana Representative, over their mutual love of hunting. It’s the sort of thing you’d read about and shake your head at the mafia-like influence of Trump’s family.
Here’s where it gets interesting: Washington State Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers appeared to be a shoe-in for the position, and wanted it publicly. She would have been one of just two women in Trump’s cabinet nominations, so far.
But Rodgers favors the transfer of federally owned wilderness lands to the states, as do many Republicans. That may sound empowering. But so many states struggle constantly with budgets that by law, must balance. Those public lands could easily be viewed as a financial windfall, and instead of spending money to protect and govern them, states deep in debt might be far more inclined to sell them off. For example, Idaho has sold 41% of its public lands since achieving statehood.
Kansas and Louisiana are bankrupt from stupid policies implemented by their Republican governors and legislatures—you just know those states would be among the first to violate the public trust and reap that windfall.
McMorris Rodgers also holds a number of other strong Republican/Conservative positions, including support for more fracking and drilling for oil and gas, on-land and offshore.
Trump and son both want to keep national parks, monuments, and other protected lands in the hands of the federal government. And presumably, Zinke is of a like mind. So it wasn’t only nepotism. But who in hell knew?
This I can tell you: photos of Trump Jr. and brother Eric grinning over big game that they killed in Africa still disgust me. But I gotta give credit where it is due—by thanking Junior and his father for caring that national treasures like Louisiana’s Cane River Creole National Historical Park and Kansas’s Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve remain in public hands.
If true, that vignette is an oasis in a sea of misery for the other departments.
- Labor Secretary nominee Andrew F. Puzder owns the Carl’s Junior and Hardees fast food chains, and has talked enthusiastically about replacing workers with robots who are “…always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.”
- The Trump team is pitching an up-is-down story about Alabama Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III’s “strong civil rights record.” His Justice Department will be in charge of enforcing voting laws—including the recent ones that have disenfranchised so many voters of color. And not for my taste: he hates pot smokers.
- Oilman Scott Pruitt has a pending lawsuit, just one of many he’s filed against the Environmental Protection Agency that he is now nominated to lead. It will be interesting if he can reverse Obama’s recent “permanent” bans on drilling off the U.S Atlantic and Arctic coasts.
- Now consider the absurdity of Rick Perry at Energy, the very department that he wanted to eliminate—but not enough to remember its name—at a presidential debate where he went down in flames in 2012. Oops.
- And I wonder which Wrestlemania trope Linda McMahon (another massive donor, with her husband Vince) will apply to the Small Business Administration: pay-per-view? Or perhaps a metal folding chair slammed against your head.
- Are Trump’s cabinet choices from the elite of Wall Street a betrayal of his base? Steven Mnuchin at Treasury would not just be Wall Street—a place Trump loved to link to “Crooked Hillary Clinton” during the campaign—he is from Goldman fucking Sachs—the very company that Trump called out endlessly as emblematic of the money and corruption he would fight. Well, I guess not.
Have a chuckle while we await our financial doom: here’s a Twitter video of the media mispronouncing Steven Mnuchin’s name—usually as “munchkin”—a thing that he is most definitely not.
so here are a bunch of news anchors who don't know how to pronounce Steven Mnuchin's name pic.twitter.com/ATmsTASUaz
— Mдтт Иegяiи (@MattNegrin) November 30, 2016
Lawmakers may “think that they’re the smartest people in the world,” said a Trump transition player, but they fear Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson because “…they don’t know him and he doesn’t owe them anything.” Ditto for Commerce Secretary nominee Wilbur Ross. If you were concerned to read that collective worth of Trump’s cabinet was nearing $15 billion, consider that when Carl Icahn joined that figure doubled. He doesn’t owe Washington anything, either.
One BIG reason that Trump got elected, at least if you listened to the soundtrack of his rallies: drain the swamp. But look at how business will now be running government, making Trump and his friends richer. Trump’s version of banning political corruption is nothing more than replacing it with business corruption.
I would be remiss if I didn’t chortle at the losers. Trump’s experience on The Apprentice obviously informs his cabinet interview process. Looks count as much as ability or money.
Here’s a Murderer’s Row of opportunists who gave it up for The Donald but still find themselves outside the gates, looking wistfully in:
- Chris Christie’s past finally caught up to him, although it was his prosecution and imprisonment of the father of father Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, that damned him—not Bridgegate or his less-than-ideal appearance.
- During the campaign, Rudy Giuliani was the most passionate and visible Trump surrogate. But he also evolved into a hybrid of horror movie vampire and Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream. He just doesn’t look like a Secretary of State—or like any responsible government official.
- John Bolton appears to have missed out based on his looks too. It’s that bushy mustache
- that Trump abhors, not his Paleolithic world view. Sad.
- Mitt Romney got a serious look for Secretary of State because to Trump he apparently does look the part. But his vicious criticism during the campaign just wouldn’t wash off. Trump strung him along for awhile, had him grovel before the cameras, then dropped him like a used rubber.
- Sarah Palin was promoted, at least by the press, as a possible Secretary of the Interior. Bill Maher’s reaction: “I don’t think she even sleeps indoors!” Her best move now is probably another cable TV show.
I have omitted my thoughts about so much of the Trump team’s inexperience and attitude, but it’s getting late. I must make an effort to be more positive—or at least funny. We all need a laugh. Try Lego Trump, from an interesting video collection titled The School of Life.
Happy Holidays! Every last one of ‘em…
The Political Apprentice #3